1837 - The state legislature authorizes the University to establish a Cabinet of Natural History, and in 1882 a new building and a formal museum organization are provided.
1838 - Asa Gray, the first Michigan professor, appointed Professor of Botany and Zoology.
1839 - Professor for Geology and Mineralogy appointed, although the first classes were not taught until 1845.
1841 - Literary Department (Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts) opens with Henry S. Frieze appointed first dean in 1875. It becomes a college in 1915.
1841 - Mathematics begins to be taught at UM.
1846 - The Chair of Modern Languages is established with Professor Lois Fasquelle's appointment, and French language instruction marks the beginning of instruction in modern languages at UM.
1848 - Regents authorize organization of the Department of Medicine and Surgery. The department becomes a school in 1915.
1850 - First courses in medicine taught; Abram Sager is appointed first dean of the Medical Department.
1854 - UM begins to offer courses in engineering. 1
1854 - Department of Astronomy formally founded with the completion of the Observatory building. The subject had been taught since the beginning of UM.
1857 - History begins to be taught at UM. Although history was taught in ancient languages classes and philosophy, the modern method came into existence in 1857 with the coming of Andrew Dickson White. It later merged with the School of Political Science in 1881 and became an individual department sometime later.
1858 - Department of Engineering formally founded.
1859 - Regents establish Law Department, with James V. Campbell as its first dean. The department becomes a school in 1915. The Law Library is also founded at this time.
1875 - Homeopathic Medical College established with Samuel Arthur Jones as dean. The department is discontinued in 1922.
1875 - College of Dental Surgery established with Jonathan Taft as dean.
1875 - School of Mines established, and includes a course on architecture which grows to become a four-year course in architecture, established in 1906. This unit is designated the College of Architecture in 1931, with Emil Lorch as director.2
1876 - School of Pharmacy established with Albert Prescott as dean. It becomes a College in 1915. 3
1879 - First Professorship of the Science and Art of Teaching (now Education) established at Michigan.
1880 - Department of Economics established. Classes had been taught since the founding of UM.
1880 - Instructorship in Music established in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts. 4
1881 - Department of Philosophy formed, separating philosophy from theology. Teaching in "moral and intellectual sciences" began in 1837. 5
1881 - Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering classes begin to be offered at UM.
1883 - Modern Language Association established to advance the study of modern languages and literatures. 6
1885 - First commencement for all schools and colleges of the University to be held on the same day. Until then, various schools and colleges held independent exercises.
1887 - Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures are founded.
1890 - Physics Department established. Courses in physics were first taught in 1843.
1891 - School of Nursing is established within the Medical Department in the form of a two-year training course for nurses directed by Jane Pettigrew. The school becomes an autonomous unit of the university in 1941. 7
1891 - Graduate Department established in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
1892 - Department of Elocution and Oratory (Speech), created by Thomas Trueblood, established and renamed many times until it becomes a part of the Department of Communication in 1979. 8
1894 - Literary Class of '94 is the first to wear academic gowns at a Michigan commencement. 9
1898 - Chemical Engineering Department founded.
1902 - Michigan Law Review first published.
1908 - Regents establish degree of Juris Doctor.
1910 - Department of Political Science founded. Courses were first taught in 1852.
1911 - Department of Fine Arts established.
1913 - Museum of Zoology becomes an independent unit, headed by Alexander Ruthven.
1913 - Department of Recreational Sports founded to "coordinate and promote participation in intramural, club and recreational sports among the student body, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan and to manage athletic facilities." 11
1914 - Department of Aerospace Engineering established. (originally called Aeronautical Engineering) 12
1915 - Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts becomes a College.
1915 - Department of Geography founded in conjunction with the Department of Geology. Classes were first taught in 1912. Geography separated from Geology in 1923 and became its own department, later to be dissolved in 1982.
1917 - Over the course of 5 months UM discharges half or the professors from its German department. 13
1921 - School of Education established with Allen S. Whitney as dean. Classes were first taught in 1879. 14
1921 - Department of Physical Education, Hygiene, and Athletics (now Kinesiology) established.
1921 - Department of Rhetoric and Journalism established (Rhetoric became a separate department in 1929 and later merged with the Department of English Language and Literature in 1930).
1922 - Museum of Anthropology organized as an independent unit, and the extensive paleontological collections formally organized in the Museum of Paleontology.
1924 - School of Business Administration established with Edmund E. Day as dean.
Lawyers Club, ca. 1925
1927 - School of Forestry and Conservation (now the School of Natural Resources and Environment) established with Samuel Trask Dana as dean. The Department of Forestry began in 1903 under the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
1928 - Department of Anthropology founded, but had been taught at UM as early as 1892.
1929 - Psychology Department founded. Courses first taught in 1852.
1931 - Department of Sociology created. Classes were first given in 1881.
1931 - College of Architecture established with Emil Lorch as director.
1933 - Law Quadrangle completed. 15
1935 - Rackham Fund established.
1937 - Newberry Hall is purchased by the University of Michigan. The archeological collections move into Newberry Hall in 1928, and the museum is named the Kelsey Museum in 1953. 16
construction, March 1937
1938 - Rackham Graduate School Building completed. 17
1940 - The Museum of Art and Archaeology (now the Museum of Art) is established. It becomes a separate administrative unit and moves into Alumni Memorial Hall in 1946.
1940 - School of Music established.
1941 - School of Public Health established with Henry Frieze Vaughan as dean. 18
1946 - Departments of Greek and Latin merged into Department of Classical Studies.
1948 - Institute for Social Research founded with Rensis Likert as director. It began with the Social Science Surveys Project in 1946.
1948 - The Phoenix Project begins for exploration of peaceful uses of atomic energy as living memorial to UM's 583 war dead. 19
1948 - The Division of Biological Sciences is formed. Biology classes had been taught at UM as early as 1875 when courses in biology evolved from the Departments of Botany and Zoology. 20
1949 - Fine Arts Library established in Tappan Hall.
1950 - Reorganization creates the School of Natural Resources (originally the School of Forestry and Conservation).
1951 - School of Social Work established with Fedele Fauri as dean. Classes were originally taught in 1921 within the Sociology Department. 21
1954 - Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences founded. 22
1958 - Department of Nuclear Engineering is established.
1959 - Department of Fine Arts changed to History of Art.
1961 - The Geology and Mineralogy departments merge to become the Department of Geology and Mineralogy.
1963 - Department of Linguistics established.
1967 - Residential College established.
1969 - School of Library Science becomes a separate school within the Graduate School with Russell Bidlack as dean.
1969 - Department of Statistics established.
1973 - The executive committee of the Literary college approves the proposal for a women's studies program and the next fall five courses are offered. 23
1974 - School of Art established with George V. Bayliss as dean.
1982 - Department of Geography disbanded.
2001 - The Department of Biology splits into two separate departments: EEB (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and MCDB (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology). 24
2001 - Division of Kinesiology changed to School of Kinesiology with 4 departments: Movement Science, Sport Management, Physical Education and Athletic Training. 25
Additional Sites of Interest:
LSA Departments and Units - Present departments in Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan
UM Academic Units - Present academic units at the University of Michigan
The sources most frequently consulted for the timeline include The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey and The Proceedings of the Board of Regents. If any of the listed events on this page seem to be incorrect, or if you think an event should be added, please send the new information to the Bentley Reference Staff and provide citations for the sources where the new information was found.
All citations were taken from The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey Unless otherwise noted with a footnote below:
1. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey and the "About the College," College of Engineering website: http://www.engin.umich.edu/about/
2. A Book of Days: 150 Years of Student Life at Michigan. [researched and compiled by Nancy R. Bartlett, Kathleen A. Koehler ; edited by Noreen Ferris Wolcott ; designed by Kathleen S. Horn]. Ann Arbor, Mich. : Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, c1987.
3. A Book of Days (see no. 2), and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
4. A Book of Days (see no. 2), and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
5. "UM - International History: An Outline" and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
7. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey and School of Nursing Finding Aid at the Bentley.
8. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey and "Anniversary Dates" list, June 2, 1997.
9. A Book of Days (see no. 2)
10. A Book of Days (see no. 2)
12. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey and College of Engineering Finding Aid at the Bentley.
13. "WWI and the Attack on Professors of German at UM" by Clifford Wilcox. History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 33 No.1 Spring 1993.
14. A Book of Days (see no. 2), and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
15. A Book of Days (see no. 2)
17. "A Chronology of University of Michigan Buildings, 1840-1999" on the Bentley website.
18. A Book of Days (see no. 2), and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
19. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey and "Making UM History" exhibit on the Bentley website.
21. A Book of Days (see no. 2), and The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey
22. The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey under Meteorology and the College of Engineering, and "History"section of the Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences website.